November 8th, 2013
Release length: 40:15
Relentless Grace does often pull from their influences, a good chunk of which takes a look at the early first wave of Black Metal, sometimes nearly mimicking early Mercyful Fate. “The Awakening” puts this on display right away. The introduction is a subtle guitar performance that goes on for about the first minute, heading right into some dark and melodic riffs at a mid-tempo pace that seem as though they were ripped right off “Desecration of Souls” from the album Don’t Break the Oath. The deeper growling vocal approach makes it somewhat unique, but in no way matches the over-the-top lunacy of King Diamond’s performance on that album. Then there’s “The Devil’s Acolytes,” comparable to “Nightmare” from that album as well thanks to the keyboard introduction and some of the haunting melodic riffs throughout. Thankfully the rest of the track does take on more of an Occult Rock performance with enthusiastic rougher vocals.
Thankfully, this isn’t an album that worships one band. “Diabolical Queen” shows some early Speed Metal influence. Take some grand riff-work similar to Iron Maiden, at least in the solos, then lace it with some two-step Punk tinged Motorhead. It’s a grim and atmospheric performance that does have the potential to stay lodged in your brain. “Merciless Faith,” however, is geared far more towards the latter of those bands, which is far from a bad thing. The rougher harmonizations try hard to hit certain levels during the chorus, but the overall performance is infectious enough to have you bobbing your head along, and bang it to the furious guitar solo about half way through.
“Leper’s Hand That Feeds” offers up a creepy shift in the musical foundation, especially around the Space Rock keyboard solo about two and a half minutes in, which is followed by a melodic guitar solo that adds an aura of gothic eeriness similar to something you might expect to hear on a Deceased album that makes the last minute surprisingly moving. But it’s “Earthbound” that ends up the biggest twist. The opening riffs throw the band into more of modern Hard Rock territory with a hint of Southern influence that may be their Danzig influence. Instead it sounds more like an ode to Alice in Chains. Even with how varied the music is throughout Relentless Grace, this one just sounds completely out of place, even rather contemporary. Of course the clean vocal hamonizations that hit don’t help things either.
Relentless Grace is a solid bout of nostalgia from start to finish, and if it weren’t for the consistent deeper vocals, this would be nothing more than nine songs of pure idol-worship. There’s enough of a unique touch to make this sound like a full-length album, but the overall presentation still screams compilation of cover songs, especially once you hit the last half where, aside “Ride the Night,” the band just goes off exploring. Deliverance really do try to make Relentless Grace a strong, enjoyable experience and, for the most part, they do a good job at it. But, while this is an album that is full of energy and definitely worth hearing, it still shows a band that still has room to grow before they can shed their inspirations and become the inspiration themselves.
01. The Awakening – 5:30
02. The Devil’s Acolytes – 3:39
03. 13 Shadows – 4:09
04. Diabolical Queen – 3:28
05. Leper’s Hand That Feeds – 4:28
06. Ride the Night – 3:33
07. Earthbound – 4:38
08. Merciless Faith – 4:10
09. Realms of Delirium – 6:42
|Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10